26 March 2014, The Tablet

Ex-Limburg 'bishop of bling' issues apology

The high-spending former Bishop of Limburg, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis last Wednesday, has issued an apology for his actions. 

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was dubbed the “bishop of bling” in the media after details of the €31m refurbishment of his residence were reported, sparking outrage from the faithful.

Tebartz-van Elst said in a statement after a brief audience with the Pope Francis on Friday: “From today’s perspective, I realise that I made mistakes. Even if they were not made deliberately, they have destroyed trust. I would ask everyone who has suffered or is suffering on account of my failings for forgiveness.”

Last Wednesday he initially rejected the findings of an inquiry by the German bishops into the costly refurbishment of his residence. He put the blame for the high costs on his then vicar-general, Mgr Franz-Josef Kaspar.

On Wednesday the Vatican said it had accepted the findings of the German bishops' inquiry that concluded that Tebartz-van Elst could no longer exercise his ministry. It announced that Francis had accepted the bishop's resignation, which he had offered in October.

At that time, Francis ordered him to take time out from his diocese pending the inquiry into the refurbishment. In November he admitted to two counts of perjury. He had hoped to return to Limburg.

Manfred Grothe, an auxiliary bishop in Paderborn, will act as an apostolic administrator, the Vatican said, citing a statement from the diocese.

The statement added that Tebartz-van Elst would be assigned a new role, and that the Pope hoped that the faithful of Limburg would accept the decision with "willingness to rediscover a climate of charity and reconciliation".

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